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The Daily Devil’s Dictionary: Bush Defines “Moral Clarity”

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George W. Bush © Jason and Bonnie Grower

October 26, 2017 04:17 EDT

Former born-again political leader George W. Bush defines morality for a new generation.


On October 19, George W. Bush shared with the world his slightly indirect critique of Donald Trump, as he warned his audience about the rise of bigotry and populism under the current administration. In particular, he lamented the loss of “moral clarity” in the younger generations.

Here is what he said:

“There are some signs that the intensity of support for democracy itself has waned, especially among the young who never experienced the galvanizing moral clarity of the Cold War or never focused on the ruin of entire nations by socialist central planning.”

Moral clarity is a term that has become rare in political discourse, especially when politicians are speaking among themselves. It is far more useful when speaking to a public who haven’t had time to think about the issue addressed.

Here is its 3D definition:

Moral clarity: unthinking adherence to a government’s declared value system, especially when the principles of that value system serve to justify in advance everything that one’s own government does, and condemns equally in advance any position that seeks to contradict it or call it into question.

Contextual note

Some dictionaries define “galvanize” as “to stimulate or excite as if by an electric shock.” The “galvanizing moral clarity” Bush associates with the Cold War can be seen as a particular form of stimulation practiced by the American government between 1945 and 1989 to generate excitement for adventures in moral clarity, such as the war in Vietnam.


George W. Bush is one those political thinkers who always remains committed to the ideas and thoughts he has expressed in the past. Nearly 18 years ago, during his first presidential campaign, he described, in his always inimitable manner, the concept he now associates with the term “morality clarity.”

“When I was coming up, it was a dangerous world, and you knew exactly who they were. It was us vs. them, and it was clear who them was. Today, we are not so sure who the ‘they’ are, but we know they’re there.” — Iowa Western Community College, January 21, 2000

*[In the age of Mark Twain and Oscar Wilde, another American wit, the journalist Ambrose Bierce, produced a series of satirical definitions of commonly used terms, throwing light on their hidden meanings in real discourse. Bierce eventually collected and published them as a book, The Devil’s Dictionary, in 1911. We have shamelessly appropriated his title in the interest of continuing his wholesome pedagogical effort to enlighten generations of readers of the news.]

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Fair Observer’s editorial policy.

Photo Credit: Jason and Bonnie Grower /

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